9 October 2018

More than an old car #83: Lexus ES 300

Mention the word "Lexus" and some of you may think of a rather "atas"/high-class image of the common Toyota, which is not wrong actually. You may think of the modern vehicles immediately, but the brand itself is not a recent formation. Imagine my surprise when I found this 1998 Lexus ES 300 XV20 out of nowhere! It was the first "old" Lexus that I had chanced across in my years of spotting...

Lexus is the luxury vehicle division of Toyota, and it appeared due to a challenge by Toyota chairman, Eiji Toyoda, to build the world's best car. The project, code-named F1 (Flagship One) was formed in 1983 and began to work on the LS400 to market to the luxury consumers. Market research was also done in the US, its main target and testing was also done on its products on the German Autobahn.

A few names were thrown into the hat for its branding, and "Alexis" became a popular contender. In order to reduce confusion with people named Alexis, the name was thus modified to Lexus instead. It has been theorised that Lexus is a combination of "luxury" and "elegance", and even an acronym for "Luxury Exports to the US", although the F1 engineers have said that it has no particular meaning and it connotes a luxurious and technological image.
As with other parts of the world, Lexus in Singapore is associated with the well-to-do people who have earned comfortably enough to afford a better car. As an upmarket version of the Toyota, there is a significant difference in the status of each driver generally.

The ES range of cars was first introduced in 1989 and 6 generation have been produced to date, with most of them being based off the Toyota Camry platform. The XV20 (3rd generation) in particular was introduced in 1996, where it featured more rakish lines and an upmarket interior. Quite a number of units were sold in this two-tone colour scheme. It was powered by a 2995 cc Toyota 1MZ-FE V6 engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 234 km/h with an acceleration of 8.8 seconds [0-100 km/h]. It was 4830 mm long and weighed 1532 kg.

Production of the XV20 ended in 2001 and there are quite a handful of them that still exist here. It was unveiled here in 1996 by the local Toyota importer, Borneo Motors, and I presume it was well-received back then for the owner to even keep it until today! This unit still has its original registration plate and seeing one really brought me back to the 90s. Maybe, you can catch a glimpse of them if you're lucky enough!

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